Showcasing the skills which had been expected to place them in line for a maiden medal, the Proteas netball team made few mistakes against Barbados on Wednesday morning, securing a commanding consolation victory in their penultimate match of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Turning out against their unfancied opponents in their last game of the group stages, South Africa looked to be chasing triple figures at one point, ultimately sealing a memorable 85-25 win.
They finished third in their group behind world champions Australia and a powerful Jamaican side, and they were likely to face either Uganda or fierce rivals Malawi in the playoff for fifth and sixth positions on Thursday, with their opponents set to be decided later on Wednesday.
The Proteas, six places above Barbados in the world rankings, wasted no time in stamping their authority on the game, and by the end of the first quarter they had raced to a 20-5 lead.
Holding nothing back, they continued to surge forward, with a near unstoppable Ine-Mari Venter spearheading the attack by sinking 34 of her 35 attempts at goal in the first half, and the South Africans were 44-9 ahead at the interval.
While Barbados enjoyed their best stanza in the third, taking more than half the possession and adding 11 points to the scoreboard, the Proteas kept the momentum going and were 63-20 up going into the final quarter.
Shutting Barbados down at the back by giving away only five points in the last 15 minutes, the SA team tightened the screws to seal a convincing victory.
Sigi Burger, who replaced Venter at goal shooter midway through the game, was nearly as accurate, netting 33 of her 35 attempts.
The national squad missed out on the semifinals for the fifth straight edition of the quadrennial Games, after falling to Australia and allowing their advantage over Jamaica to slip away in the most crucial of their group stage matches.
Should they win their playoff, however, it would be the country’s best Commonwealth result on the netball court since the 2002 Manchester Games when the SA team ended fifth.